Mad Madge: 101 Places You Shouldn’t Sing In (but we did…)

Mad Madge: 101 Places You Shouldn’t Sing In (but we did…)


As I climbed the steel ladder lashed to the side of the toilet block, heels slipping on the rungs, I wondered why I had ever thought that “go-anywhere opera’ was a good idea.

The brief had been simple; a covered market wanted us to christen their new toilet block. (“Sing some Puccini,” quipped the booker). The concept was fine until we realised that the only way onto the top of said facility was via a temporary ladder, for us in full regalia, the pianist and the digital piano.

Once up there, we couldn’t be seen from the ground either, so we performed hanging off the safety rail like monkeys with one hand, desperately waving hand signals to the pianist with the other.

Over the years we’ve become used to weird venues, which often appear under the guise of ‘accessibility’.  After one particularly arduous day singing in a Birmingham shopping arcade in howling wind and foul weather, our final task was to sing in local restaurants. The Italian was fine, the Japanese more of a challenge, since we were competing with ‘cook it in front of you’ chefs armed with flying machetes and a chopping action as rapid and loud as machine gun fire.  After twenty minutes of singing against slicing and sizzling, the food Samurai won, and we gave in to the delights of tempura and teriyaki instead.

Libraries are more of a mental challenge; years of silence enforcement by shushing librarians have to be put aside as you sing as loudly as possible in venues designed to deaden sound as much as possible.  In one library, the book racks doubled as wings, and since this was the only area to change, I remembered to keep my head down so as not to be seen.  What I didn’t realise until later was that I was stripping off behind a single row of Cookery, and most of the Delia collection was out, leaving an interesting window of opportunity for the front row.

Fundraising events for charity can land you in places you never dreamed of, such as a Swindon fire station. The firemen had cleared the engine garage, and put up a stage, lighting, seating, even balloons.  We were just wondering where the fire engines were, when the call came.  Six burly firemen slid down the pole next to the stage, (just like Trumpton!), and rushed into the night, sirens blazing, minutes before we started singing.  Amazingly, they were back in time to serve baked potatoes and tea in the interval.

A more usual fundraising or party venue is the great British marquee.  One exuberant host had got every mod con for his April bash; decent lighting, good flooring, swags, flowers, flounces, and a state of the art heating system that looked (and sounded) like a jet engine.  “It’ll be fine’, the host beamed as he proudly demonstrated the full throttle setting, “So long as the wind doesn’t change direction.” Which of course it did, so everyone’s noses soon knew that the hosts did indeed run a very large pig farm…

New Hatstand Opera website live and kicking

It’s bright, it’s bubbly, it’s orange, it’s our
new Hatstand Opera website!

After a month of intense planning, designing, writing and Photoshop-ing, our new website is now live to the world in all its cheerful glory. We hope it reflects our sense of fun, and sincere dedication to great opera entertainment in the UK and beyond.

We’ve added more images, more copy, and more detail, so you can find out all about our current shows and past commissions, for example. We’ve also created six new case studies, so you can see how other clients have put on shows for charity or in unusual locations – or both!

Nice though they are, studio or production shots don’t fully convey our go-anywhere ability, so we’ve included photos of us in real venues, sometimes before the audience even arrive.

And they are not all large-scale venues by any means, so you can see that we’ve performed in every type of venue from ruined castle to hotel conference ro0m, open air stage to private patio.

If you like what you see, please do Like us on your favourite social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, Google + or whatever the latest method is that we probably haven’t quite caught up yet with! Just use the little icons on this blog, or at the bottom of any page.